Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Startup Accelerator, Singapore: Zenyum, Star3D, 3D Metal Forge

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In this third installment of Startup Accelerator, Singapore, we’ll be looking at the ship-and-noodle loving nation state’s 3D printing startup community.

Zenyum

Zenyum is a direct competitor to Align Technology and makes similar invisible braces. The company also has a toothbrush. Operating across Asia in several markets, Zenyum illustrates that it is possible to do a local-only version of an international technology trend. And local-only may pay off for the young firm, since it is doing it in one of the most populous and growth-oriented areas in the world.

Rather than go head-to-head with Align in the U.S., the firm is eyeing growth in Asia. I love that this gives it more chance at a startup exit as well, since it could be picked up by Align itself or an Align competitor. It may be the once-and-future king, but it could be the kingmaker if it fails at this. Zenyum’s marketing is slick and the firm has populated its offering with complementary products, such as breath shields, floss and whitening toothpaste.

I think that this is brilliant and we all know that the invisible braces concept is brilliant, as well. With nearly two billion consumers at its APAC doorstep, the company could be unique in localizing its offering to them. This could give it huge local power. Or it could be swept away by a global giant. Does the company have the power and wherewithal to scale? That’s the major question it faces.

Star3D

Another 3D printing startup with an Asian focus in Star3D. Star has a desk-side 3D printing solution comprised of material, printer, 3D scanner, and software for dentists in Asia. A complementary solution with one number to call could be a very tempting platform for many dentists and dental labs. Rather than having to cobble together your workflow from a series of vendor it all comes from one firm and is made to work together.

The company’s portfolio has a dental guide material, something for permanent crowns, a surgical guide resin, and a dental model material. The LCD-based 3D3 Mimi 3D printer is said to produce a crown in 15 minutes. This could be a compelling company that could easily grow into a behemoth unbeknownst to the more U.S. and Europe-focused dental industry.

Global dentistry has seen sustained growth and many more dentists are considering the move to digital. With CAD/CAM already well-established, many firms are familiar with manufacturing in-house and could be quick to adopt dental. The market is set to grow rapidly. But, will local dentists opt for local labs, centralized labs, inexpensive 3D printers, expensive systems or complete solutions like that of Star3D? This is not something that is well understood right now. This does mean that Star3D has a real opportunity on its hands, if it can grab it.

3D Metal Forge

3D Metal Forge is a firm focused on metal printing specifically for maintenance, repair, and overhaul and maritime applications. I love the focus and the small firm is already active in Houston, Texas, Australia, and Singapore. It went public on the ASX, where shares have been declining ever since. The company has made over 20,000 parts to date since 2012 and claims to print a part every seven minutes. They’re ISO 9100 accredited and offer a number of design services, as well as manufacturing.

I love the maritime focus, DNG certifications, and work on other applications that marine firms love. The company also combines production in powder bed fusion with directed energy deposition (DED), which can be a powerful one, especially for marine. They have several different DED technologies, as well as material extrusion, and Multi Jet Fusion. Their latest announcement saw their revenue increase by 23% for the quarter, but at quarterly revenues of less than USD$200,000 for quarter, the firm is still small. Especially given the CAPEX and labor costs they have, 3D Metal Forge will have to work hard to level up. A contract with Singapore’s port and a broad portfolio gives the firm a lot of options, but do they have the scale to compete globally?

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